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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gonzaga Prep swimmer Daniel Roy sets sights on 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Even with swimming goggles strapped over his eyes, Daniel Roy is seeing 2020.

That’s an Olympic year, and Roy is setting his sights on being in Tokyo after his breakout performance last weekend at the AT&T Winter National Championships in Federal Way, Washington.

That’s when the Gonzaga Prep sophomore posted a personal best in the 200-meter breaststroke and qualified for next year’s Olympic Trials.

So why not shoot for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro? With maturity beyond his 15 years, Roy is realistic enough to know that his time will come later. For now, he’s building an impressive résumé, one lap at a time.

And he’s having fun in the process. On Tuesday afternoon, he joked with other members of the Spokane Area Swimming Team as they prepared for another workout at the YMCA on Newport Highway.

“I see it more as a social thing,” Roy said. “I see these guys more than my parents.

“If you have bad day, you come here and you become a happy person.”

Roy was even happier last weekend after swimming the 200 breaststroke in 2 minutes, 16.45 seconds – almost 2 seconds under the qualifying time for next year’s Olympic Trials. The time also is the 11th fastest for an American 15- to 16-year-old.

Roy also is ranked first in his age group in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events, and second in 200 individual medley.

Roy had just a few days to savor the moment. He and coach Kalen Darling are in Austin, Texas, for the junior nationals, which began on Wednesday.

Both agree that last week’s payoff was the reward for Roy’s work ethic, which wasn’t always his strength.

Three years ago, Darling was kicking Roy out of the pool for polling the lane dividers to get an extra boost.

“It takes a long time to know an athlete and it takes awhile for them to trust you and trust the training you’re giving them,” said Darling, an All-American swimmer at Whitworth and an elite-level triathlete.

“There was a lot of uncertainty, but that has improved, and his work ethic has improved every single year,” Darling said.

That, along with his technical proficiency that Darling describes as “beyond that of his peers,” put Roy in position to make his mark last weekend. After he narrowly missed the trials qualifying standard in the 200 individual medley, both coach and athlete saw that a breakthrough was imminent.

“I felt it coming,” Roy said.

The breaststroke is his best event, but “he’s becoming versatile in every stroke,” said Darling, who adds that Roy is at his best on race days.

“He just has that killer instinct,” Darling said. “He’s quiet but very competitive in races. What we added to that was working hard every day in practice, gettting enough sleep and eating right.”

Roy hopes the hard work will pay off in June in Omaha, Nebraska, site of the trials – not necessarily with a trip to Rio.

“I don’t think I’m going to make it this year, but I think I have good chance to make it in 2020,” Roy said. “This year, making the semis would be my biggest goal – to say that I got there and swam well.”

Nicholls also represents area

Sarah Nicholls, a Central Valley High School sophomore and member of the Coeur d’Alene Area Swim Team, finished 56th in the 100 breaststroke at the nationals in Federal Way.

Nicholls, 15, swam the race in 1 minute, 13.21 seconds – 1.6 seconds off the Olympic Trials qualifying time for that event.

Nicholls added a 47th-place finish in the 200 breaststroke.

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